Facebook Offers Friendlier Business Page Tools for Marketers

fb-artIt certainly feels like Facebook has been paying closer attention to the user experience needs of digital media marketers recently, with a steady stream of tools that make it easier for them to manage their business pages. Earlier this spring, Facebook rolled out the Admin Panel for Facebook pages. Two weeks ago, it launched its Pages mobile app. Last week, it added two new features: Admin Roles and Scheduled Posts. It’s about time. Despite the hoopla and the $104 billion valuation on IPO day, I’ve always felt that Facebook was a little clunky for brands and businesses to use. That’s not to say that it isn’t right for really amazing marketing campaigns (think Skittles). And Facebook is a remarkable place to build support for a cause, especially if it has a strong emotional hook (see Planned Parenthood). I’m referring to behind-the-scenes management. As friendly as the interface is for its users – that is, all of us who share our immediate personal feelings everyday on the platform – it lacks some important tools for digital media marketers.

Coming from a tech and publishing background, I’ve really been spoiled by staging or sandbox environments. Let’s face it: the Facebook platform is not WordPress, at least not yet. WordPress offers quite a bit of flexibility to experiment and test before pushing new content into the world. Facebook, with its real-time, share-my-thought-without-much-thinking culture, offers limited options for a WSIWYG, pre-publishing environment.

Digital marketers need review and test capabilities. I’m always astonished when I look at a Web page I’ve created and realize that it looks completely different than I expected: when what I thought was a tightly written headline wraps in an ugly way. And frequently, copy needs to be seen in the context of layout before a reviewer can approve. In each case, I’m grateful for the ability to make corrections before publishing.

While Facebook doesn’t really offer a staging platform for Business pages, there are workarounds. You can unpublish your page while you make changes, and if you’re an app developer, there’s sandbox mode.

The introduction of the Admin panel and scheduled posts offers more flexibility and visibility for effective page management. Let’s take a look at some of these updates.

Admin Panel

Rolled out in March, the panel gives you a quick one-stop view of what’s happening on your page. It’s great for community managers, who can now see at a glance all of the activity on the page (likes, comments, and tags) and respond quickly to them. The individual features have been in place – just not so nicely packaged.

Admin Roles

Page administrators can now assign different levels of access to other page contributors. This should be a much-welcomed improvement, especially for small- to mid-sized businesses, which may not have enabled access for employees for fear of losing control of their page. Companies can have an unlimited number of page administrators, but now they can be restricted to certain actions.

There are five roles, with Manager at the top level, offering full rights and access. There’s not much difference between this role and the next: Content Creator. This role can do everything but manage administrative roles. Other roles are much more limited: moderator (for managing comments), advertising (yep, you got it, ads only), and Insights Analyst (for data reporting only).

I think there’s room for a sixth role between Content Creator and Moderator — someone who can’t edit pages but can post as the page and respond to comments.

For financial institutions, health organizations or any industry that’s highly regulated, the ability to assign roles and levels of access is especially valuable because official commentary from the company can be better managed to lower risk. In other words, you don’t have to worry about rogue employees.

For all other organizations, this provides the opportunity to anoint more employees as brand ambassadors. In small organizations, this is especially valuable, as most of the content updating tends to get centralized under a single person. A word to the wise: always have two Page Administrators as Managers. Access to your page will be protected if one leaves company.

Schedule Posts

Although you can schedule posts on Facebook using other tools, such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite, the ability to do so within Facebook is more than just a convenience. Bigger brands are likely to be using multiple social media channels, and a third-party tool makes sense for a wider social reach.

However, small- or mid-sized businesses may be using Facebook as the primary or only channel. Until now, they had to use a second tool to schedule their posts for the week or month. These are exactly the types of users who struggle to keep up their page. It’s incredibly more efficient – and reliable – to spend an hour a week scheduling posts for the week to come, than trying to stay on top of it all day, every day, especially when you have a business to run.

Another benefit of Schedule Posts is that you can view upcoming posts in your Activity Log (from the Admin Panel, click on Manage, and then choose Use Activity Log). Unfortunately, you can’t edit the post itself (you can reschedule it). If you need to tweak it, you’ll have to delete and recreate it. However, it does provide Page Managers some level of oversight and the ability to halt updates before they go live. So, in some respect, it can be used as a review, preview or staging platform.

All in all, these are steps in the right direction, though there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

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